20 April 2016

Funds from Hove Library earmarked for better services in new cultural centre

Money raised from any sale of Hove Library would be used for improving both library and museum services in a new cultural centre, says a council report.

Initial estimates suggest sale of the 1908 building in Church Road, Hove, would raise around £1m.  This would contribute to the £1.4m cost of creating a new extension of Hove Museum to house library facilities in a combined cultural centre.  The 250sqm extension would double space on the building’s ground floor.

The change would also save the council having to spend just under £740,000 on maintenance on the existing building in the next five years, plus £337,000 in annual running costs.  

A new report to the council’s policy committee on April 28 details other benefits the plan would bring:

- Upgrading the museum, bringing more visitors to both museum and library, with improved galleries, exhibits and activities

- Broadening the cultural programme, with adult education, talks and workshops

- Combining library and museums resources for cultural experiences beyond traditional browsing and learning

- Working with families and children to provide services supported locally

- Strengthening the case for additional external funding

- Improving the garden, café and retail, generating income to support services

- Hiring out spaces or facilities

- A dedicated room for the Wolseley Collection on Sussex history

- Outside activity areas and space for older children, lacking in the old library

A majority of people responding to a survey between last November and February supported the plan.  Fifty seven per cent of 1,124 people approved, or strongly approved.

The report says the only other likely way of saving similar sums would be to close up to seven neighbourhood libraries.

Further money for the Hove Museum extension would come from the sale of the Hollingbury Library building in Carden Hill for an estimated £350,000.  Its books and services would be moved into Hollingbury and Patcham Children’s Centre in County Oak Avenue.  An extra collection of books would also be made available at the Old Boat Community Centre in Hollingbury.

Council leader and chair of the committee Cllr Warren Morgan said:  “We can no longer afford the costs of running the Carnegie Library.  But we can use these changes to create something better, which is more than the sum of the current library and the museum.  We’ll develop more creative space and modernise services with better IT facilities.  By combining these resources we can fill the building with more reasons to visit and create something owned and supported by the people of Hove.”

The principal of selling the old building and moving library facilities to the Museum site was agreed, as part of the Libraries Plan, at full council on March 24.